2021 World Series preview: Five storylines to watch in Astros vs. Braves matchup

The Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros will kick off the 2021 World Sequence on Tuesday evening. The Astros possess home-field benefit by advantage of getting a greater common season file, which means Video games 1 and a couple of can be performed at Minute Maid Park in Houston. (Video games 3 by means of 5 can be hosted at Truist Park.)

The Braves, showing of their first World Sequence since 1999, reached this level by first defeating the Milwaukee Brewers in 4 video games within the Nationwide League Division Sequence. The Braves then outlasted the Los Angeles Dodgers, the reigning champions, in a six-game collection that avenged Atlanta’s loss in final yr’s NL Championship Sequence. The Braves are in pursuit of their second World Sequence title since shifting to Atlanta.

The Astros, in the meantime, are competing of their third World Sequence in 5 years. Houston knocked off the Chicago White Sox in 4 video games in the course of the American League Division Sequence. The Astros then out-slugged the Boston Red Sox in six video games within the ALCS. The Astros are looking for their second ever championship.

Clearly the latest expertise, if such a factor issues at this stage, favors the Astros. Listed here are 5 different storylines price watching because the Fall Basic will get underway.

1. Can Houston’s bats torch Braves’ starters?

The Astros had the majors’ most potent offense in the course of the common season, ending first in wRC+ (a FanGraphs metric that adjusts for ballpark) and runs scored, and ninth in house runs. For our cash, one of the intriguing tales of this collection is whether or not or not the Astros lineup can discover a technique to carry the pitches they see from the Braves’ three important beginning pitchers: Charlie Morton, Max Fried, and Ian Anderson.

After we write “carry,” we imply that actually. No beginning pitcher had a decrease common launch angle-against in the course of the common season than Houston’s Framber Valdez (-5.5 levels). Morton, Fried, and Anderson weren’t too shabby themselves, nevertheless. Try their ranks among the many 129 pitchers who threw at the least 100 innings:

  • Morton: 18th (6.8 levels)
  • Fried: tenth (4.7 levels)
  • Anderson: eighth (4.5 levels)

There’s a complete dialog available concerning the intersection and interaction of swing planes and method angles that we’re not attempting to have right here. 

All we’re observing is that the Astros should discover a technique to get the ball increased within the air if they are going to exert most harm in opposition to the Braves rotation — a rotation that, at the least on paper, appears to be like to be the higher of the 2 staffs. If the Braves trio holds true to their common season kind, that is going to be a troublesome task.

Even when the Astros can launch off in opposition to the Braves’ starters, there is a flip aspect price contemplating.

2. Can the Astros discover sufficient pitching?

The Astros are anticipated to be with out Lance McCullers Jr. for the rest of the playoffs. Think about Justin Verlander’s season-long absence, and Zack Greinke’s non-stretched-out state, and Houston should financial institution as soon as once more on a compromised rotation of Valdez, rookie Luis Garcia, José Urquidy, and Jake Odorizzi.

It is truthful to marvel how the Astros will method this collection from a personnel standpoint, and if they will be capable of hold sufficient runs off the board. Throughout the ALCS, the Astros had simply three pitchers file at the least 15 outs: Valdez (who was the one pitcher to file 21 or extra), Garcia, and multi-inning reliever Cristian Javier.

Garcia, who tends to battle in opposition to left-handed hitters, would look like the fulcrum right here. Bear in mind, the Braves prime hitters are largely of the left-handed selection: Eddie Rosario, Freddie Freeman, and Joc Pederson. Ozzie Albies, a switch-hitter, may also be batting from the left aspect more often than not. Having Garcia begin Recreation 2 (and presumably Recreation 6) would possibly take advantage of sense for Houston. That approach, the Astros can restrict his publicity in opposition to the Braves lineup with out having to fret about burning out their bullpen as a part of the three video games in three days midpoint of this collection.

After all, determining methods to line up the starters may be the best pitching resolution the Astros make this collection.

3. Parting reward from Correa and/or Freeman?

Each passing World Sequence recreation attracts the offseason a step nearer. That represents a catch-22 for Astros and Braves followers, who need to weigh their need to rejoice a title with their stress regarding a franchise mainstay’s looming date with free company. It is at the least doable that Houston shortstop Carlos Correa or Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman will win the World Sequence as their ultimate act with their present workforce.

Of the 2, Correa appears way more more likely to depart, as he is the favourite to land the richest contract handed out this winter. Correa went on the file within the springtime to say the Astros do not imagine in these sorts of offers. It is a assertion with advantage: Houston let George Springer stroll final offseason, in order that they’ve proven the willingness to maneuver on from beloved homegrown gamers who’re looking for giant payouts.

Freeman, conversely, looks as if a lock to stay in Atlanta. Nonetheless, you may’t blame any Braves fan who stays anxious concerning the state of affairs till the ink dries on a brand new deal.

4. Which seasoned supervisor will prevail?

Hiring youthful managers is in vogue, but it surely will not end in a World Sequence, not this yr. Slightly, irrespective of which workforce wins, a longtime baseball individual will get a hoop.

Houston’s Dusty Baker has known as the photographs for his groups in elements of 24 seasons. He is the one skipper to ever lead 5 franchises to the postseason, having amassed greater than 2,000 profession victories. Add in Baker’s taking part in profession, and it is correct to jot down that the one factor he hasn’t achieved in baseball is win a World Sequence as a supervisor. This may be his final likelihood, as his contract expires on the finish of the collection. 

Atlanta’s Brian Snitker remains to be considerably new to managing. He took over the Braves on an interim foundation in 2016 after which did the unthinkable by successful sufficient video games to maintain the job and lead the franchise out of a rebuild. Snitker’s relative inexperience as a skipper (in comparison with Baker, anyway) should not obscure that he is been with the Atlanta group in some capability or one other courting again greater than 40 years.

One enjoyable tidbit price realizing: Snitker’s son, Troy, is a hitting coach with the Astros

5. Projections favor the Braves… barely

Usually, we like to notice how the 2 groups carried out in opposition to each other in the course of the common season. That is not an possibility right here, because the Braves and Astros haven’t met up in a recreation of file because the 2017 season. The Astros received all 4 of these encounters, outscoring the Braves by a 38-13 method, or by greater than six runs per contest.

How a lot predictive energy do these video games maintain? Zilch. For example the purpose, contemplate that the final time these two groups met, the Braves lineup included Brandon Phillips, Matt Kemp, and Matt Adams, with Jaime García getting a begin. 

For one thing that ought to have predictive energy, we’ll end by noting that SportsLine’s simulations have the Braves as the favorite by the slimmest of margins. Atlanta wins in 50.5 % of SportsLine’s projections. Houston, it must be famous, is taken into account the betting favourite (-150) by Caesars Sportsbook. | 2021 World Sequence preview: 5 storylines to observe in Astros vs. Braves matchup


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